Posts Tagged ‘Lefty Frizzell’

100 Greatest Men: #59. John Anderson

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

As one of the finest new traditionalists of the eighties and nineties, John Anderson pushed the boundaries of country music without sacrificing its distinctive heritage.

Like many of his contemporaries, Anderson grew up on both country and rock and roll.  He was a teenager when Merle Haggard led him to the genre, and what he heard was enough to motivate him to move to Nashville.  He did construction work around town, including putting the roof on the new Grand Ole Opry in the early seventies.  Over the next few years, he made a name on the club scene, which soon earned him a recording contract with Warner Brothers.

The label patiently worked him as a singles act, and as he gained traction at radio, they released his self-titled debut in 1980.  Its honky-tonk, traditional sound stood in stark contrast to the pop-flavored country that dominated the day.  With his second album, John Anderson 2, he solidified himself as a leader of the nascent new traditionalist movement, covering Lefty Frizzell and Billy Joe Shaver alongside original songs.

Still, it was the pop-flavored “Swingin’” which earned Anderson his greatest notoriety in the eighties.  The million-selling single earned Anderson the CMA award for Single of the Year, and was the peak of his years with Warner Brothers.  By the time he left the label in the late eighties, he’d scored twelve top ten hits.  But despite the fact that the sound he’d brought back to the forefront was all over country radio, he struggled for airplay and the critical acclaim of his early years faded away.

Then, a stunning second act.  Anderson signed with BNA Records in 1991, and staged a major comeback with the #1 hit, “Straight Tequila Night.”  It served as the anchor to the 1992 album Seminole Wind, which earned rave reviews and double-platinum sales.   Anderson was nominated for every major industry award, with the most attention going to the title track,  a poignant environmental plea for the protection of the Florida Everglades.

Anderson maintained momentum with the follow-up album, Solid Ground, which sold gold and included three big hits.  For the rest of the nineties, his success at radio was less consistent, and he scored his last significant chart action with “Somebody Slap Me”, a top thirty hit that was his first release for Mercury Records.

The new millenium brought a well-received collaboration with John Rich, with the resulting album, Easy Money, earning Anderson’s strongest reviews since Seminole Wind.   More recently, Anderson co-wrote Rich’s single, “Shuttin’ Detroit Down.”  In addition to maintaining a hectic touring schedule, Anderson is currently preparing a new studio album, slated to include guest appearances by Haggard and Willie Nelson.

Essential Singles:

  • I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday), 1981
  • Wild and Blue, 1982
  • Swingin’, 1983
  • Straight Tequila Night, 1991
  • Seminole Wind, 1992
  • I Wish I Could Have Been There, 1994

Essential Albums:

  • John Anderson 2, 1981
  • Wild & Blue, 1982
  • All the People are Talkin’, 1983
  • Seminole Wind, 1992
  • Solid Ground, 1993
  • Easy Money, 2007

Next: #58. Carl Smith

Previous: #60. Don Gibson

100 Greatest Men: #83. Freddie Hart

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Back in country music’s golden age, an artist could maintain a solid career for two decades before suddenly reaching a massive height of popularity.

Freddie Hart was a great example of this.   As one of fifteen children born to an Alabama sharecropper, Hart’s only chance at success was striking out on his own.  Though he played guitar since the age of five, Hart’s first tour of the world was as a soldier at the age of fifteen.  He lied about his age to join the service during World War II.

He settled in California after the war, and worked at a police academy, teaching self-defense lessons.  His musical career first took off when he joined the road band of Lefty Frizzel, who was instrumental in earning Hart a recording contract with Capitol. While his song “Loose Talk” was recorded by Carl Smith, he didn’t have significant success as a recording artist beyond a handful of tracks that peaked outside the top ten.

After a stint at an independent label, Hart returned to the Capitol roster in 1970.  His first releases fared so poorly that the label dropped him, but they still sent another single to radio: “Easy Loving.”  It took off immediately, and by the time it reached #1, he was back on the Capitol roster.

“Easy Loving” is widely acknowledged as one of the most significant singles in country music history, bringing a new frankness to the genre.  A slew of hits followed, and Hart dominated in the industry awards in 1971 and 1972.  The album Easy Loving was so big that it earned gold status, a rarity for country music albums in the early seventies.

Though the hits died down toward the latter half of the seventies, he remained a popular touring act.  Even today, he still commands a fan base that stretches around the world, proving that sometimes, slow and steady really does win the race.

Essential Singles:

  • The Key’s in the Mailbox, 1960
  • Easy Loving, 1971
  • My Hang-Up is You, 1972
  • Super Kind of Woman, 1973
  • Trip to Heaven, 1973
  • The First Time, 1975

Essential Albums:

  • Easy Loving, 1971
  • My Hang-Up is You, 1972
  • Bless Your Heart, 1972
  • Super Kind of Woman, 1973

Next: #82. Fiddlin’ John Carson

Previous: #84. Uncle Dave Macon

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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